In this second part of The Story of a British Hedgehog I bring you photographs of the new hedgehog house we bought from the RSPB (Royal Society for Protection of Birds) who don’t only sell items such as bird houses but also for other British wildlife including insects and hedgehogs. There’s also a photograph which isn’t brilliant quality (I was worried about scaring off the hedgehogs by using flash) but is very exciting in content!
This is the RSPB hedgehog home we bought. They sell two different types of home – we chose this one as it has an outer room for food and a secure inner chamber for hibernation. The home has a lift up lid for inspection and placing food. The design is brilliant – we have cats so we need something sturdy and the lid can be secured using the screw fixing so they can’t tamper with it. The entrance way means that hedgehogs can get in but cats and larger animals can’t. We’ve been placing hedgehog food inside and he’s been gobbling it up. Yes, pet shops such as Pets at Home and the online pet store Fetch sell several different types of specially formulated hedgehog food. You mustn’t give them milk (yes we used to in the 1980’s but it isn’t good for them) but cat food is okay.
We’ve put the home in a quiet and sheltered corner of the garden in the hope that the hedgehog will chose it for hibernation. The RSPB says that
Sadly it’s estimated that a third of the hedgehog population has been lost in the last ten years. As gardens become increasingly fenced in and paved over, hedgehogs can have trouble moving around and finding natural shelter in hedges and leaf piles. One of the best ways to help is to provide a safe home for them in your garden.
One night we went out to put food in the shelter and on the patio and stumbled (almost) across a hedgehog. We were surprised as it looked really big – how could our little hedgehog have got so big? We weighed it and discovered it was over 1 Kg (2.2 lbs) in weight. Puzzled – we kept putting food out. The mystery was solved when we looked out one night and saw two hedgehogs eating from the plates of food! We think the larger one (on the right) may be the mother hedgehog looking after its young.
Since then we don’t always see them together but one or other comes along every night at the same time to have some special hedgehog tapas that we put out (Spike’s dry food, Spike’s semi-moist food, and Spike’s ‘Meaty Feast’).
Remember: If you are having a bonfire in the garden (or anywhere else) please re-make the bonfire before lighting to ensure no hedgehog has made its home there!
More news soon! [Hopefully it won’t be as long as last time – have been experiencing a bit of an MS relapse so not able to do much – including typing.]